I called Ruth today.
I told her I was sitting at the pharmacy in one of those uncomfortable chairs and I found
myself staring at the pipes in the ceiling.
I heard the tapping of computer keys and the muffled voices from the drive-thru window. I heard paper rustling and staples tapping. I heard shuffling steps. I heard the humming of the air vent above me. I felt my phone vibrating in my purse.
The white pipes in the ceiling were traveling east and west. The pipes were racing high and making sharp turns into the walls. The brackets hugged the pipes with all of their might while the screws received no credit for their duty.
The larger pipes hovered over the smaller pipes like whales carrying their young. The smooth metal was light and free. The lights of the pharmacy, round and bright, did not reach each pipe; therefore the shadows between each bend in the pipes offered peace from the sorting of pills and angry customers.
I explained to Ruth that I had become transfixed by the white pipes and the ceiling hovering over my medication. I was pulled away from the ground and my feet; I was relocated to another part of my mind.
“And somehow,” I explained, “I thought I was home.”
The pharmacist called my name and broke my stare from the whales above us. I approached her and she greeted me with ease. She confirmed my identity and for a moment I was home. I knew who I was and peace and comfort dripped off of my fingertips and onto hers as we exchanged the white paper bag.
“And then,” I told Ruth. “And then, I turned around to see the waxed tiles of the pharmacy floor. I could see through the glass door.”
I went on to tell Ruth that I was quite positive I had gone mad. And with this psychological breakthrough, I had carried myself back to work and cried in my car to the tune of the radio.
“I was awake, Ruth. I was awake, and I thought I was somewhere else.”
Ruth was my friend. She had been for a while now and she understood why I told her I felt alone.
“I know I am not alone. I was with people the past few days. I was with friends, yet I feel
Perhaps I did not feel alone, exactly, I explained. Perhaps I felt alienated from those who do not get confused about what city they are in as they wait in a pharmacy. Perhaps I am the only one who imagines dragging around my husband on a catchpole, much like a rabid animal who craves more hostility.
Ruth explained that she, too, felt alienated. She had carried her son, new and fresh, to church each Sunday, as I had carried my husband – wild with chemicals and needle sticks. No one noticed we brought visitors to church each Sunday. No one sees these types of visitors.
Most of the church, and the pharmacist for that matter, do not know why I had to leave my home. They do not know the sounds of my family before my husband disappeared into another world. They do not know that I ran for my life – children in arms with one set of clothes – and fell into the puddle of a town that I wanted no part of.
Most of those who Ruth smiles with at the church do not know why she believes this life has given and taken all it will. They do not see her son in her arms, as he sleeps in a corner of the cemetery where the large limbs of the oak trees sway over the smaller limbs like whales carrying their young.